We are anxiously watching one of our GPS-tagged leatherback turtles* – Leona Nicole – with our colleagues at the Canadian Sea Turtle Network! We tracked her after the nesting season to Canadian waters, where she spent a good amount of time foraging around Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In late September, she moved into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is a common things for leatherbacks to do when they are in this area.
But usually, the turtles have departed this area and have headed back out to the open sea by October, so they don’t get caught in colder water over the winter.** It seems that Leona is staying here a bit longer than normal and she’s a little farther south than we’d like her to be. Every day we wait for the data from her tag to be emailed to us so we can see if she’s moving out.
You can watch along live with us here on this map! Leona Nicole in Canada! We really would like her to be moving north and then east over the next couple weeks. Fingers crossed 🙂
Leona was a bit of wild child this summer! We only saw her once and then she zoomed all over St. Croix, and to Puerto Rico, and has nested all over! She’s done a lot for us in helping us figure out where Sandy Point leatherbacks are going and why they aren’t nesting as often at Sandy Point.
**Sometimes sea turtles can get stuck in an area with rapidly cooling water. They try to swim south to escape, but hit land (for example inside the hook of Cape Cod), and then get cold-stunned. Essentially because their body temperature is regulated by their environment, they get too cold to move, and often end up stranded on beaches.
*Backstory: This summer we satellite tagged 3 leatherbacks nesting at Sandy Point as part of a collaborative study. We are doing this so we can follow them during the nesting season so we can discover their full nesting range and what other beaches they are using for nesting besides Sandy Point.
This project is a partnership with many groups – the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life , Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas (ATMAR), The Ocean Foundation, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, along with NOAA and the USFWS at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. Major sponsors include the Propeller Club of Baltimore, James and Rhoda Stewart, ATMAR – Amigos de las Tortugas Marinas, the Thomas A. and Lucille B. Horne Foundation, National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The St. Croix Sea Turtle Project is supported by the Sea Turtle Census Initiative, which is sponsored by The Ocean Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, based in Washington, D.C., but working globally to protect our oceans.